P&G shores up Old Spice with body-wash extension

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Procter & Gamble Co. is putting a new spin on Old Spice by entering a body-wash category that the company claims men publicly scorn but secretly embrace.

"Our research shows 45% of men use body wash," a P&G spokesman said. "But most are using women's products and half are using them secretly. Their partners typically do not know that they're using it."

Hoping to bring these male users out of the closet and into the bright light of mass retail, Old Spice High Endurance body wash hits stores in mid-January. The launch will be backed by an estimated $15 million to $20 million in marketing support from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, to break in March, according to retail executives.

"The men's personal-care category is growing at double the rate of the women's category," the spokesman said, adding that there's "no men's body wash [actively marketed] at mass right now."

Body wash is the latest of several Old Spice extensions aimed at rejuvenating a brand still associated by some with granddad's after-shave. It comes in the same "sport" and "fresh" scents as the deodorant bar soap launched in February. P&G in the past year also has extended Old Spice into aerosol and gel deodorants, Cool Contact Refreshment Towels and body sprays similar to Unilever's Axe.

In all, P&G put more than $42 million in media behind Old Spice through September, double the brand's spending for all of 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. But while Old Spice has increased sales for 33 consecutive quarters and been the fastest-growing men's antiperspirant-deodorant for years, the extensions have had mixed results.

deodorant sales rise

Old Spice sales rose 13.3% to $110 million in deodorants for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 1, according to Information Resources Inc. But, despite $16.6 million in media support through September, according to CMR, Cool Contact cloths had only $3.8 million in sales through Dec. 1 in IRI-measured outlets, which don't include Wal-Mart Stores or club stores. Old Spice bar soap, backed by $11.6 million in media, had IRI-measured sales of only $8.8 million.

Cool Contact is a "nice little business" the P&G spokesman said. "The deodorant soap has done extremely well. It's exceeding our expectations and still growing."

IRI figures don't break out Old Spice body spray, but retail buyers said that product is holding up well against Axe, which is in the midst of a $90 million rollout begun in August. Unlike Axe, however, Old Spice sprays haven't reached Wal-Mart shelves yet. Axe had IRI-measured sales of $8.9 million through Dec. 1, but retailers said sales accelerated in recent weeks after a slow start.

Retailers aren't sure, however, that men are ready for body wash. Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Softsoap for Men, launched in 2001 with light marketing support, had sales of only $653,000 in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 1. "I think guys have trouble with the idea of using those poufs," said one retail buyer.

Fast Facts

Product: Old Spice Body Wash

Spending: $20 million

Total Old Spice spending: $42 million through September

Old Spice lines: Deodorants, Cool Contact, bar soap, body spray

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